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An appropriate venue is being sought to host the inauguration of President-elect Justice Anthony Carmona on March 18. Sources close to Carmona, who is considered a man of the people, said he wanted an “all-inclusive affair” to be witnessed by members of the public and not a stiff ceremony to be attended only by retired public servants and those in authority, when he became the country’s fifth President.
The T&T Guardian understands members of the Fyzabad community, where he grew up, have hired approximately 20 buses to come to Port-of-Spain to witness the expected pomp and ceremony associated with the inauguration. Among the venues under consideration are the Queen’s Park Oval, Hasely Crawford Stadium and Queen’s Hall.
Official sources said Woodford Square, where former Prime Minister Patrick Manning took his oath of office in 2007, is not among the venues being considered because of its strong political overtones and security concerns. Security arrangements, which began on February 4 when Carmona signed the nomination form and consented to be the presidential candidate, were increased yesterday after he was officially declared the President-elect.
Reports are that the Government is pursuing an appropriate place of residence for Carmona, his wife Reema and their two children—Christian, 12, and Anura, ten—who now live at Flagstaff Hill, St James.
“He will have to move to a more practical place in terms of security considerations. He won’t want to inconvenience his neighbours, in terms of parking for a security detail,” the official said, explaining that as a matter of protocol the President-elect will not consent to interviews until he is sworn in.
“We have this very terrible way of discarding the old and glorifying the new and he does not want to be part of that process. We have an incumbent President and we have to use a measure of civility when dealing with these situations,” the official added. Carmona will receive his instruments of appointment from Speaker of the House of Representatives Wade Mark at 11 am on February 18.
The official said Carmona, who is still getting over a bout of laryngitis, would spend the weekend tying up loose ends and resting as he and his family prepare for a new lifestyle. The term of President George Maxwell Richards, who was first elected in 2003, will end on March 17, a Sunday.
Carmona will be sworn in the next day, since such ceremonies are not normally held on a Sunday. For a few hours between the resignation and inauguration, the country will be without a duly-elected President. However, a legal official said there would be no problems.
“If there is an emergency, I suppose there can be a swearing-in forthwith, or Senate President Timothy Hamel-Smith can continue to act until the new President is sworn in,” the official added. President Richards and his wife, Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards, have gone on vacation overseas, leaving Hamel-Smith in charge.
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